A message from President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., on one-time budget priorities for the fiscal year

Nov. 1, 2021

Profile President Janine Davidson

Dear Roadrunners,

Since the establishment of Metropolitan State University of Denver as a college over 50 years ago, Roadrunners have time and time again overcome many obstacles and risen to every occasion.

The Covid-19 pandemic has asked so much of our employees, and together we have weathered significant budget challenges and operational changes. While we’ve always been a lean and efficient institution, we have had to do even more with less during the pandemic, and I understand how trying that has been at times.

Fortunately, the economic challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic have opened the door for some unique budget opportunities, thanks to an infusion of one-time federal funding meant to help institutions of higher education recover from the pandemic and continue to meet students’ needs. In the spirit of transparent and inclusive leadership, I would like to provide a thorough overview of presidential priorities and a synopsis of the one-time spending in the 2021-22 budget, decisions that were made with input from leaders all over campus.

With three federal acts passed in 2020-21 and the one-time funds in MSU Denver’s General Fund, the University is allocating a total of $76.5 million in one-time spending to long-overdue projects and initiatives not covered by our base budget. These investments in our most valuable resource – our people – along with various critical infrastructure needs, are the foundation of our multiyear budget strategy of “recover, stabilize, build.”

Investing in people
Our faculty and staff reflect the Roadrunner spirit of resiliency and determination, and we are using this opportunity to show appreciation for their extraordinary efforts to make education possible for our students. Compensation makes up two-thirds of the University’s base budget, and investing in our people with one-time funds not only recognizes our dedicated and talented faculty and staff but helps us more effectively support students.

  • The base investments in salaries announced last month included a 1.75% base increase along with another 1% ($760,000) allocated to faculty compression adjustments. Additionally, $3.31 million in stipends will be awarded to faculty and administrative staff members who have helped us weather the Covid storm. Putting our people first by providing competitive compensation and support will continue to be a presidential priority.

Sharing the MSU Denver story
Thousands of students saw their dreams interrupted during the pandemic, and we have a responsibility to help them realize that their dreams are still within reach. Raising awareness of our innovative, nimble, student-centric education and social-mobility opportunities among those who will power our society’s comeback is essential to our mission. This requires strategic enrollment and marketing investments now to ensure a strong student pipeline for the future.

  • Enhanced marketing initiatives include:
    • $6 million to expand marketing outside of metro Denver to other areas of the state and neighboring states
    • $1.8 million for strategic branding opportunities
    • Nearly $1 million for new growth initiatives

Investing in the future through fundraising
We are launching MSU Denver’s first institutional fundraising campaign in the coming year, which will bring in needed funding while also building critical relationships and bolstering our reputation in the community.

  • This first-ever comprehensive campaign will be primed with $4 million over three years for Advancement to recruit staff. This investment is projected to yield a $1.2 million annual increase in fundraising in the initial years of the campaign and grow to a nearly $4.2 million annual return.

Supporting strategic-initiatives planning and online infrastructure
Investing in our built environment and our learning infrastructure, including the buildings and grounds of the Auraria Campus as well as our online teaching and learning capabilities, will ensure that all Roadrunners have the modern facilities they need to teach, learn, work and thrive.

  • $14.6 million to address strategic infrastructure needs
    • $7.26 million to update 150 MSU Denver classrooms to support flexible learning environments
    • $1.4 million to address space planning for the Health Institute, the Classroom to Career Hub, flexible work-environment changes and controlled maintenance needs
    • $4.5 million for deferred maintenance needs, such as replacement of turf fields and courts as well as other infrastructure needs of the University
    • $1.4 million to continue the build-out of our online infrastructure, including ongoing training and support. Additional investments for our online posture will be announced in coming months.

Strengthening our administrative backbone
Historic underfunding of the University has forced us to prioritize current operations year after year at the expense of foundational support systems such as Information Technology, Human Resources, Financial Aid and other processes. We must invest in our institutional engine room to provide students, faculty and staff with the support they need.

  • Information Technology
    • $1.2 million in addition to a $1.5 million state investment for IT Services to implement critical Wi-Fi network upgrades and updates to the server and Banner environments
  • Human Resources
    • $4.72 million allocated to the Workday project to cover implementation costs, licensing fees, and temporary staff in HR, Accounting Services, Budgeting and ITS
    • $179,000 for professional development of faculty and staff. Additional investments to fuel a Universitywide presidential leadership program will be announced shortly.
  • Student Services
    • $1.3 million to improve organizational processes and structures, including upgrades to our financial-aid and transfer processes and investments in our strategic enrollment-management efforts

Providing additional student resources
While the federal government has provided $37.5 million in direct aid to MSU Denver students in the same acts that have provided institutional one-time funding, we’re allocating additional one-time funds to support our students’ emergency, transportation and housing needs.

  • $1.1 million to cover the student Regional Transportation District pass for this fall
  • $600,000 for student emergency funds
  • $600,000 for scholarships over three years
  • $570,000 to support students with housing needs
  • $1 million invested in the C2 Hub to continue helping students connect to high-quality internships and career opportunities
  • $1.7 million from our $3.5 million in CARES Act Hispanic-Serving Institution grants for tutors, teaching assistants, translation and technology to support teaching and learning. The remaining allocation will be announced in the coming months.

Ensuring operational sustainability
As responsible stewards of public funds, we are also setting aside funds and returning money to departments significantly hurt financially by the pandemic.

  • $7.07 million saved in reserves for potential needs in 2022-24 to ensure University sustainability and ability to address near-term projects
  • $5.1 million for SpringHill Suites by Marriott, including debt payments and required renovation
  • $2.75 million set aside for Covid-suppression efforts, required by Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III funding guidance
  • $1.38 million returned to auxiliary departments that lost student-fee revenue during the pandemic

MSU Denver is at an exciting strategic turning point. As we emerge from the pandemic and resume implementation of our 2030 Strategic Plan, these one-time investments will provide the foundation for our transformation. I am excited by the changes ahead and am sincerely grateful for your continued dedication to our important mission.

I want to give a big thank-you to our Budget Recommendation Committee, the HEERF subcommittee and all the branches for their recommendations as well as the ongoing implementation of these projects in the coming years. To learn more about MSU Denver’s budget and budgeting process, visit msudenver.edu/president/budget. For specific budget questions, please contact the Office of Budget at [email protected].


Janine Davidson, Ph.D.
President, MSU Denver